Podcast Episode 28: Old-School Training Wisdom From Julian "The Quad Guy" Smith
He's a highly popular trainer and bodybuilder who also happens to have one of the most impressive sets of wheels out there. But Julian Smith doesn't keep his training secret! He shares plenty that you can use right away in this in-depth conversation.
Listen To Podcast Episode #28
Episode 28: Old-School Training Wisdom From Julian "The Quad Guy" Smith. He's a highly popular trainer and bodybuilder who also happens to have one of the most impressive sets of wheels out there. But Julian Smith doesn't keep his training secret! He shares plenty that you can use right away in this in-depth conversation.
Publish Date: Monday, October 2, 2017
Behind The Scenes Photo:
Behind The Scenes Video:
Ep.isode 28 Highlights & Transcript ▼
- His history as a bodybuilder, and as a student of bodybuilding
- How equipment availability drove him to innovate
- How 195 pounds looks and feels different 12 years apart
- How Tom Platz inspired him, and what he learned from the Golden Eagle.
- His other favorite pro bodybuilders, and why he stopped trying to mimic them
- Is muscle cool in Portland? Not quite yet, unfortunately.
- Why he loves the Smith machine (it's not just because of the name)
- How he thinks through what load to choose
- The art of slow negatives, and the mindset that goes along with them
- What you absolutely need to do on your last rep of bench press and squats (you'll need a spotter or safeties!)
- The secret of his leg development: isometric contractions
- His horrible first show prep
- How he navigates eating at restaurants while staying conscious of his macros
- "All I eat is Rice Krispies treats. You heard it here."
- The magic of heel elevation for squats--and some unique ways he does it
- How he trains right now, on a two-week rotation
- How much he plans out his workouts beforehand
- The mind-muscle connection: Why it's the be-all and end-all, and how he finds it
- Why he almost always squats at the end of a leg workout
- "I tell people this all the time. Bodybuilding is one injury away from never doing it again. I want to do this as long as I can."
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Hey everyone. Welcome to The Bodybuilding.com “Quadcast”. We've got four heads, five heads in the room (including the sound guys), for everybody's favorite four-headed muscle. I'm your host Nicholas Collias Medialis, along with Heatherectus Femoris Eastman over here.
Heather Eastman: Ooh, Heatherectus Femoris, I like that.
Nick: And then we've got with us Julian Michael Smith a.k.a. The Quad Guy. You're not one muscle, you're all of them.
Heather: No, he's The Quad Guy.
Julian Smith: Yeah.
Heather: The Quad Guy.
Nick: Julian is a bodybuilder, rising social media fitness mind, I guess. I feel like it's easy to say 'rising' cause you've gone up like a hundred thousand followers on Instagram in the last hours I've been stalking you.
Julian Smith: Just chippin’ away. I’m trying.
Nick: That's right. But you're also one of those guys who you just hear about a lot in the gym these days, because you ask somebody what they're doing and you find out that you're one of those people who’s creating and reviving better ways to do things that people are already doing.
Julian Smith: Absolutely.
Nick: Not just creating, but also kind of reviving. It seems like you have an eye to history, as well. Julian's been on the Bodybuilding.com campus all day today shooting workouts, Snapchat stuff, Facebook Live stuff, so welcome to the podcast.
Julian Smith: I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Heather: You're welcome.
Nick: As I kind of indicated, one reason we are excited to have you on here is because you're not just a bodybuilder. You're kind of a student of bodybuilding history as well. We were talking before we were recording about this great video you had about sort of hidden gems in the town that you lived in growing up.
I was wondering, how long has that been part of what you do? ‘Cause you've been bodybuilding for a long time.
Julian Smith: Yeah.
Nick: How long has history been informing what you do?
Julian Smith: I guess it's been since like the beginning, so I've been lifting for about 15 years, bodybuilding with like diet base for about 12, so I've been doing it forever, but the gym that I started out was called the Powerhouse Gym out in Forest Grove, and now it's called The Gym. Original. But, what's cool about that gym was, and that's kind of what sparked this whole thing with me and how I wanted to run my Instagram was it was very "one preacher bench, one squat rack, one of everything," but it was a very popular gym. So if I went there at the popular time, it was totally all about waiting and I was a 17-year-old kid, so I was waiting in line for everything that I wanted to do.
It just became very apparent that I'd look at old school ways to do it because it just clicked to me through all the research that I did, the old school guys didn't have half the stuff that's available now. So you see pictures of Tom Platz doing sissy squats with a dumbbell holding on to a bar. There's no machine, there's no squat rack, there's no anything besides him and a dumbbell, and you could always get your hands on a dumbbell.
Nick: It's kind of by necessity not just-
Julian Smith: Yeah, you know as a kid I had my normal stuff to do and I had to get in, I only had set period of time that I could lift, but I wasn't gonna spend a fourth of my workout waiting to get on something, and I feel like that's what everyone does nowadays, like "Oh, the squat rack's not open", and you see them sitting and playing on their phone.
If the squat rack is not open, figure something out to do and that's the way that I did it.
Nick: Okay. Yeah, that makes sense though. People are so married to their programs sometimes, too. They go in and think "If I don't do this, and this in a specific way, I'm gonna screw everything up".
Heather: It'll ruin their day.
Julian Smith: Yeah. And that's the thing that I wanted to like kind of portray or like show everybody that once you find like how the body does things, like a bicep curl is very simple, you lower your arm and you raise it. Are you telling me the only way you can do that exact movement is like at a preacher station? You could like bend over with a dumbbell anywhere in the gym, and do a bent over or like a concentration curl or something like that. If you can find different ways to do that, it just makes the whole thing much more easier.
Nick: Sure, but at the same time, you've encountered perfect pieces of equipment it seems like too-
Julian Smith: Exactly, and you can't neglect it. A lot of people come to my page and they go "Stick to the basics". That's one video that I posted in that day. I did five exercises for that workout, which included inclined barbell press, flat barbell press, dumbbell flyes, and then you go on to something a little more tricky, something a little more you don't see, doesn't mean you don’t hit the compound, that doesn't mean you don't attack the necessities first.
Heather: Yeah, I noticed that on your Instagram descriptions you have like all this detail on how to do the exercise. What came first, the chicken or the egg on that one? Was that because you're doing these kind of different movements in the machine that wasn't necessarily designed for that? Tell me a little bit more about how you kind of developed this very distinctive style that you have, because you do. You don't just post one sentence, it's this whole paragraph of how to do it correctly, and where to feel it.
Julian Smith: I think that when I first got into the sport, there was no Instagram, there was no Facebook, there was nothing to really give you information besides maybe like I think there was maybe like Flex Magazine and that's about it. Those are pictures, there's no really description. It just says 4 sets of 10 on squats, 4 sets of 6 on this. That was kind of the end of it, but I was always like "Man, I'm not feeling it. Why am I not feeling it?", and I just thought that when I'd made my Instagram, that I wanted to really make something that could help people, because I didn't get a lot of this stuff when I ...
Yeah, you could like bring the dumbbell or the dumbbells or barbell down your chest, press it up, but if you're not feeling it in your chest, you don't just sit there and say work on form, like dude, tuck your elbows, keep your shoulder blades retracted, as you come up focus on pushing your elbows together, not your hands and actually make like the primary work muscle do the work.
Sometimes it's just a little thing like hey, when you're doing back, pull with your elbows, not with your hands, and everyone's like "Dude, I cannot believe that all you had to do was write that down", and it like clicked for me. That makes a huge difference, because I didn't have anybody that could help me with that growing up. A big following on my page, I'm pretty sure it's between like 18 to 24 is my largest following, through like my metrics and everything or my insights. I just thought like, you know, that's an age where maybe a lot of people are getting into it or they want to like perfect their form or get better, and now it's why I wanted to really break it down. Talk to me …
There's so much science out there. There's such good information out there, but it's so science. It's like okay of I read this, now I have to read all the definitions of the words that were in that sentence. Dude man, like just tell me. If it's written in crayon, tell me how to do it the right way. And that's what needs to click for people. There's maybe a little more hard work and a little more … basics to it. I don't need the scientific breakdown of what everything is taking place. Just tell me how do to it the right way. And usually the simple way is the best way to do it.
Nick: Speaking of you, when you were 18 to 24, I saw a before and after picture on your Instagram today. Kind of got in the spirit of being in the Bodybuilding.com hallway, which is packed with hundreds of before and afters. This is you at eighteenish, twenty eight-ish.
Julian Smith: I think I was, yeah. I think it was like right when I graduated from high school. We were on our senior trip.
Nick: Same weight, and were you aspiring to be a competitive bodybuilder at that point?
Julian Smith: At that point I was lifting pretty … I was getting into it.
Nick: Like night and day. Not even the same fucking species, right?
Julian Smith: Yeah. That's what was cool about that. I think too many people do their diet, too much … their training goes on and they think that if the scale is not moving, then they're not seeing results. In that picture, I was 195, I think I was like 194, 195, somewhere, when I graduated from high school. I was 195 in that picture. Same height, same weight, but obviously my body composition changed. I put on a lot more muscle, but people just think that, I mean that's basically 12 years, 11 years of straight lifting, and if most people heard that "Oh, you weighed the same that you weighed in high school", they think "Oh, what a terrible bodybuilder", but look at the picture. I'd rather change something like that. It's not all about the scale.
Nick: Sure, sure. What clicked in there? You didn't have that person who was showing you the way Tom Platz did the things the way that you do things. When did you kind of hit your stride, do you feel like?
Julian Smith: I hit my stride, it was basically… I think it was back then, it was like, was it called Kazaam? It was like illegal downloads. I would just download like the Shaq movie …
Nick: Oh, okay like the Shaq movie. Yeah, yeah.
Julian Smith: Yeah.
Heather: You know about the Shaq movie?
Julian Smith: You're like Space Jam. Great flick!
Nick: No, no, I know Kazaam, sure.
Heather: Nerd alert.
Julian Smith: Yeah, so that's where, before YouTube and everything, we were just downloading like old school, I'd download Pumping Iron, I think Total Rebuild was like the 1980 video. You could find small clips of Tom Platz doing that kind of stuff.
I really liked the idea of the way Tom Platz trained, because he'll be the first one to say, and this is not a dog on him at all, he didn't have the best genetics. He didn't look like Arnold. He didn't have that big, huge chest with the broad shoulders and great arms. He was really known for just one body part. At a young age, I just thought to myself, I don't have broad shoulders. I'm a relatively tall guy in regards to bodybuilders. I'm six feet tall, but I don't have huge, broad shoulders, I don't have a huge, massive chest, but legs picked up very quickly for me, and that's something that kind of gave me hope at an early age, like "Look at this guy. This is Tom Platz", and he almost made an entire… just a name for himself based off of just one leg, just not one leg, one muscle. You know what I mean?
A lot of people are like "I gotta have everything. I gotta be the best of the best of the best". To be honest, I don't know if I’ll ever … when I'm gonna get on stage again, but what I really enjoy, really appreciate more than anything is building on the physique that I have. Once you get past the whole "God, I really want to look like …". I used to be obsessed with Evan Centopani. He's a great guy. I actually was cheering for him when him and Guy Cisternino won their classes at, I think it was the Nationals a long time ago, I think it was ‘08, ‘07 somewhere in there. I remember thinking like those are the guys that I want to look like. Obviously, Cisternino is a shorter guy but Evan Centopani, big guy, that's what I want to look like.
Then you start thinking yourself, I'm not gonna look like that. I don't have the genetics to come close to that, but once you can start appreciating yourself, I think that's when you start getting more drive. You know what I mean? You could be really stoked on what you're gonna do. A lot of people are like, I had a guy send me a direct message of somebody watching the live from the workout earlier and we were talking about something that was in regards to the workout, but his comment was "Well, if I'm skinny and don't have any definition, why would I even try?".
What a horrible mindset. You're not even gonna try, like you need to scrap that because what's really cool about every single person is, you will never look like me, I'm never gonna look like you, we're all never gonna look like each other. You're gonna be able to build something that is 100% different. You could have similarities, but your physique is … no one will ever look like you.
Heather: That is a really interesting perspective for a bodybuilding mentality, cause bodybuilding is all about getting everyone to line up exactly the same, so everyone looks identical and we can judge all of you and just pick out these little tiny details that look a little bit different, so that is very cool.
Nick: The package. Bring the package. Competition is part of what really defined your early years.
Julian Smith: Yeah, I thought that's all I wanted to do, to be honest. I really wanted to be competitive. I knew that I didn't necessarily have a chance at ... I didn't really want to do like IFBB pro. Being six foot, I would've had to be like 230, 240 on stage minimum, to win my pro card. It's just not something that I wanted to do, but it was just one of those things where, you know, I guess when you get it out of the way, like I used to play a bunch of sports growing up. When I graduated from high school, I wasn’t planning on college. I needed something to do, and lifting was super easy. I enjoyed it.
It's pretty simple, you know. If you enjoy something, you're just gonna continue doing it, and then when you start seeing more and more progress, that's where I kind of put more time and energy into it. Then when you see you're excelling at it, that's when it really motivates you.
Nick: You live in Portland, right?
Julian Smith: Portland, yeah.
Nick: It's a town I know pretty well, and it's a town where people really, they fearlessly experiment with their bodies a little bit.
Julian Smith: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Nick: Do you feel like that a bodybuilder can feel more at home in Portland because of that, or are people on the streets like "Ew, gross … muscle"?
Julian Smith: What's funny is for a long time I was kind of thinking that Portland was gonna be like the big Venice Beach, California. It's like the Keep Portland Weird, they have the Naked Bike Ride, which breaks records every year for the most naked people in one spot.
We'll be in downtown Portland and all of a sudden, I think that last year they had like 10,000 people dress up as Santa Claus, and you'd just like walk out of the restaurants and you're like "Oh, my God", there's a sea of Santa Clauses out there in the winter. I think that they call it like Santathon or something like that.
You would think that that would be more accepted, but it's honestly not. I don't think bodybuilding is ever really gonna be ... But at the same time, I don't necessarily think I'm like the mass monster, ’90s bodybuilder walking around. I think it's the veins. You know what I mean? I think that's what it is. You could be a built person and everyone can look at you and go "Well, that guy's in good shape". If I didn't have like the veins that I have on my arms, I think a lot of people would go "Wow, he's in good shape". When you see the veins, I think that's just a negative stigma and they think that it has to do with drugs and I don't think anyone's ever gonna be okay with drugs, you know the drug use.
Nick: Hmm. That makes sense, yeah.
Heather: All right, so you've done some weird exercises in the gym and specifically I'm thinking of that kind of goofy frog leg, it's like you're underneath the Smith Machine doing the vertical press, and last time-
Julian Smith: I don't think we're gonna go with that one…
Heather: That was the one where I did kind of the Scooby Doo like "Rrr".
And last time you and I talked, we talked about how you don't really take credit for having invented any of this. You claim that you've kind of seen other people doing it at the gyms. So, my question is, have you ever tried one of these kind of off-the-wall exercises and it just did not go well, went completely sideways on you?
Julian Smith: You know what? I think there's always like the trial and error. There's always a way to make it work. I'm not gonna go do something. It's not like … I'm not gonna go step in the ring with like Conor McGregor and be like "I think I could do it". No dude.
Nick: Just with Floyd Mayweather.
Julian Smith: Yeah, Floyd. But stuff like that. I'm probably never gonna put myself in a situation because if I'm trying something that I'm already questioning, I better damn well know I'm gonna be able to do it okay. It's like I told you earlier, like when you understand the mechanics of what's taking place, you can't really get hurt. It might be a little funky, but if you're lying on the ground and doing like the wide-stance press in the Smith Machine like you're talking about, that's exactly what a barbell like wide-stance squat is, but you're upside down.
Heather: Oh, yeah, you've just inverted it.
Julian Smith: And everyone's like "Oh my God, what are doing". Well, it's the same exercise, somebody who's on the squat rack and I was like I got stuff to do today and let's do this.
Nick: It does seem like you don't look down on any piece of equipment in the gym. Is that part of your historical mindset maybe? Like everything has its use.
Julian Smith: Yeah.
Nick: Like the Smith Machine, for example, everybody's favorite thing to hate on. Every strength coach I feel like on T-Nation, on Bodybuilding.com, comes on and says "Don't use the Smith Machine for anything except calf raises". But there's a real use here.
Julian Smith: You know what? You can't beat the basics. I'll tell you right now, the Smith Machine's incredible. I use it in every one of my leg workouts, and the reason why I use my Smith Machine in every one of the leg workouts is because there's just simply stuff that you cannot do with the barbell with the Smith Machine. Like, I do actually this one where I call it the ultimate ass-to-grass squat, and what I do is I put my feet out and I squat down and touch my butt to the ground. Think about that for a second.
Nick: Heels elevated on the dumbbell?
Julian Smith: No, no, no.
Heather: Feet out wide?
Julian Smith: So you'll have your feet far on front of you. It's gonna be glute dominant, but you stretch so far down that your butt touches the floor. Can you do that with a barbell? You'd fall back.
Heather: You would fall backwards. The physics is off.
Julian Smith: You come down to do that, you'd fall back and it's stuff like that where you get your compounds out of the way, you get your squats, you get your stiff-leg deads, you get your normal leg stuff done, but you can isolate your quads in a different way. Like my sissy squats on the Smith Machine, driving down with your knees, it's a quad-dominant exercise. You can't do a lot of stuff like that with total balance, but you get in something like that. It's almost as if it was made for that.
If you put a sticker on the side of the Smith Machine, and it said “for sissy squats” and it was on there, people would go "Oh, there's the sissy squat machine". It's just the lack of what it says that makes you think otherwise. If like a barbell curl or like a curl machine, or something like that, said something different like shrug machine, and it showed you how to do a shrug on a preacher curl machine, it would look normal. But everyone just says "Well, that's not what the picture says". It doesn't mean it doesn't work.
Heather: All these machines are just mislabeled.
Julian Smith: Who screwed the pooch on that?
Nick: That's part of it though.
Julian Smith: Someone’s losing their job.
Heather: Yeah, that's your niche right there.
Nick: Kris Gethin who does a bunch of videos for us, he just wonders around the gym and he looks at something, and the name of the machine means nothing to him. Like, the shrug machine, he'll do deadlifts on the shrug machine. Then he goes over to the assisted pull-up machine and he does tricep extensions, and it's like he looks so free in the gym, you know.
Julian Smith: That's a really cool mindset. I like that. I feel like I got maybe a little bit of the ADD going on. I get too bored doing the same stuff. I want to switch things up all the time. I think there's nothing wrong with that. When people dog on you, "Why don't you just do bench?". Well, you know, you work that in. That is one of the things, but what are you honestly gonna say to somebody that does something weird when it works for them? I don't know if people think I do that for absolutely no reason, just to like be cool and have people scrutinize you, but I do that cause it works.
Nick: I remember we did a ‘History Of The Squat’ video a few years ago on the site that I had to end up writing and doing some voice-over, and did a ton of research into the history of the squat. I remember discovering all this fascinating stuff and all these incredible characters back then, like Paul Anderson, Tom Platz, and just going deep into that rabbit hole, learning about the Steinborn Squat and the Bent Press and all these great lifts.
A lot of that information is lost, too. Like it's easy to be influenced by the characters, but sometimes the techniques that these guys actually followed-
Julian Smith: You miss it. Look at like hoist machines nowadays. They do some of the movement for you. They actually move to make you do the correct form. You know what I'm saying? Like the actual thing will move to make you do it correctly. A dumbbell you gotta figure it out on your own. That's why I always tell people, your barbell and your dumbbell should be a majority of your workout. If you want to do some other machine and stuff in there as well, anybody who follows the workouts on my site, they know that's exactly what I do.
There's different tempos in regards to negatives. There's different paces in regards to how long you're gonna hold at the bottom of an exercise, or contract at the top, or you can go high reps, low reps, whatever it is, but you could have variations in there, but the compound basic exercises need to be done.
Nick: Sure, and yeah, you mentioned the negative as well, which is something that you're working with Heather with an article about, sort of the forgotten half of the movement when people are focused on moving weight. This is what I'm trying to do, hit a number to feel good about myself, right?
Julian Smith: People they think about it like this, like you're bench pressing, people think that well if you didn't get the bench press up, that rep didn't count. What you don't realize is the negatives, what's tearing the muscle and breaking it down for growth. So I take more time with the negative to do that. I know there's a lot of people out there that says like too slow is counterproductive, but for me, going extra slow like that, helps my muscles do more work. If I don't have a good mind-muscle connection to my chest and I have to do a four-second negative to contract the weight up and feel it contract, that's what I'm gonna do.
Nick: Sure. The concentrics on your reps don't look like they're super slow. It's not like you're just tiptoeing through the whole thing.
Heather: No, it's regular, yeah.
Nick: It's almost like you just turned the rep on its head.
Julian Smith: Yeah, exactly.
Nick: Like you're actually thinking of the lowering as the rep. Is that where the ... is?
Julian Smith: Yeah, a buddy of mine, I was talking to him a while ago, and we were spitting some information back and forth, and he was just like ... The way that I think about… A lot of people just think about getting the exercise up. They don’t really think about… It's like when you go through a sport, like let's say like a quarterback in football, you're gonna snap the ball, you're gonna take two steps back, three steps back, whatever, you're gonna pivot, you’re gonna fake, then you're gonna break everything down before you do it, but you need to do stuff like that in your exercises.
When I squat or bench, or whatever I do, I break it down. That was actually something that Tom Platz did in one of his vlogs, you get the weight off. You mentally think "Take your breath. Get your breath in. You're nice and tight, your core, everything, your spine's aligned, your shoulders are retracted back. Okay, now we're doing the negative. All I care about is the negative right now. I'm not thinking about how hard the positive's gonna be. We're thinking about getting a good negative right now". Then you're gonna do a good pause, then you go up, and then when you break it down like that, it almost turns one simple exercise into ten different parts, and I think that's when you put that much focus on it.
Nick: We have a strength coach who writes for us named John Rusin, who's been a podcast guest in the past. He has a cool approach with the deadlift that he's written about for us. It's like yeah you think about the lowering. This is the rep, and then up, this is the rep, and up. But the deadlift seems like the ultimate movement for ... No, it only counts if you get it off the ground. It's the deadlift, right? But you're thinking an eccentric deadlift instead. You talked about that in the article that you did with Heather as well.
Heather: Yeah, eight-second eccentric, say that five times fast.
Julian Smith: Also, one thing before we get into that. What a lot of people… It's kind of like what you mentioned, they rush the positive and they don't put too much emphasis on the negative. What people don't see in a lot of my videos, and this is almost I would say 90% of the time; you ever see people get on their last rep on bench, what do they do? They rack it. You should be doing the negative on that last one, especially if you have a lifting partner. You take advantage of stuff like that. Your body's at a full, vulnerable position to finally take on that weight, it's completely fatigued and you're robbing it of that last negative rep.
So when I do my squats, you'll see it very often that if I leave it in my videos, that I get buried under it. I put the bars up enough that I can fail bring it down for one last, knowing I won't be able to get back up, and set it down on the pins. And you get the last negative.
Nick: So you just gently set it down. I like that, yeah.
Julian Smith: Anything where you could do that. I mean think about like a preacher curl or something.
Heather: Like a bicep curl, yeah. That's the first thing I thought of. You never end here-
Julian Smith: You never do a bicep curl where you come up-
Heather: You always end here.
Julian Smith: Yeah. Nobody ends on bench, nobody ends down on squats. Nobody…
Nick: Anderson squat from the pins, right?
Julian Smith: Yeah, there you go.
Nick: Yeah, just turn in the movement entirely on its head.
Julian Smith: Exactly.
Nick: Okay, I like that.
Heather: So you're known as the quad guy. Are your other muscles jealous because the quads get all the attention?
Julian Smith: I think my quads aren't necessarily ... I think they're impressive, but I think it's impressive because of the stigma of guys don't train legs. There's a lot of guys out there that have much more impressive legs than me, but I also feel like it’s the separation. When I'm completely dieted down, all four heads of my quads are completely striated up, I think it's more rare, but that's something that I've worked very hard on, usually at the end of my quad workouts when I'm dieting down for a show.
I'll do like 30 second contractions like standing up and squeezing a quad as hard as I can, just locking it up and that's what gives you those cross striations. Normally, when people are done with their workout, they leave. Imagine getting done with an arm workout and then squeezing your bicep into a ball as hard as you can for 30 seconds. Stuff like that makes a very big difference.
Nick: Was it something that you started doing just as posing practice for a show, or was this actually part of your routine and your training mindset?
Julian Smith: I wish I had the guy's name and I wish we could reference him in this if we could look it up, but there's an old bodybuilder from like ... He's actually considered like, cause it's actually before the first clinical study of steroids, cause he's actually considered one of the first natural bodybuilders ever, but this guy built his physique off of flexing. Think about that for a second. He's neck looks like, it's insane. I'm trying to think what the guy's name is, but there's only like maybe five or six pictures total of him.
Nick: What decade are we talking?
Julian Smith: I'm pretty sure it's like 1890s.
Nick: Okay, yeah. There are a lot of old muscle control manuals. That was a serious component of people's training.
Julian Smith: This is like prior to mustache singlet. He looks like he has like fishing line and something covering up his package. It's really strange.
Nick: Pre-Sandow and everything.
Julian Smith: Pre-Sandow, pre everything. He's like super built, and I remember reading articles on his training and he contracted body weight the entire time. It's all he did. Never really lifted weights. What he would do is squeeze his muscles as hard as he could for periods of time. He looked very, very impressive.
Nick: Yeah. I mean that was a major part of how Sandow trained as well, cause he'd go up on stage and he would isolate muscles, explain how they worked to people and the women would faint, and stuff. His teacher was Attila, and he's in the ‘History Of The Squat’ video. That might be who we're talking about. There's just one or two photos and painting of course.
Heather: I'm gonna find it, don't you worry.
Julian Smith: Yeah, it's super cool though. I think that's like the history aspect. You dive into Platz and you just think to yourself "Wonder what guys looked like in the '90s, or the 1890s", and you're like "Oh crap, they're still huge. What were they doing back then?" And you start seeing they didn't really have anything. There weren't that much dumbbells, there was no bench press, there was nothing like that, but why is that guys so jacked, why is he so big? That worked for him.
Nowadays, if I went into a gym and just started squeezing my body as hard as possible, people would be like "That dude is the biggest idiot ever". But that's how this whole thing started.
Nick: Not at all gyms. Is there like a black book of training out there of these guys that you can refer to, or do you have your black book somewhere?
Julian Smith: You know what? Someone said that I should do something like that, and it's pretty interesting because those guys, it's like the golden era and even prior to the golden era, the people that started this whole thing, they were the test subjects. You know what I mean? That's what I really like about bodybuilding.
Nowadays all you hear is "You gotta do 65% of your one-rep max and you gotta progressive overload or you're not gonna do it". What about when Tom Platz used to squat 50 reps? People are gonna make an argument for "Oh, the guys was on drugs or something like that", which he was very open about and everything. Have you ever done … I've done the 60 reps squats. I've done 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, and it was one of the gnarliest leg pumps I've ever done in my life. It's one of those things where you can't do that every workout. Actually by the time I was done with that workout, I actually got the flu. It broke my immune system down because of how hard-
Nick: In the middle of the third set?
Julian Smith: Yeah, I was like "Wow man, this is rough". But, you activate muscle fibers that your body's never, ever experienced before. People don't think like that. All they think about is eight to 12 reps, no matter what. They'll be the first ones to say "How come I'm plateauing?". Look at your training, man. You haven't done anything different for the past three years. I'm surprised you don't look less, or something like that.
Nick: But those guys also they grew up in a different area nutritionally as well. How they ate was different. It feels like in the ‘80s, ‘80s just screwed up everybody nutritionally. I was reading about you. You had some horrible preps. They were based on the bodybuilding status quo of how to prep as well. All the protein, none of the fats, feel like shit.
Julian Smith: So you read it, okay, cool. You read my exact words, cool.
Nick: I don't remember if the words "feel like shit" were in there, but I was reading and I was like "This guy felt like shit".
Julian Smith: Could've been "wanted to die", something like that. I remember that was my prep going into my first show when I was 19, and I was doing two hours of stairstepper. I got 50 grams of carbs every four or five days, no fats and 400 grams of protein. It was fish, 400 grams of protein.
Nick: Like a school of fish? Did you have a tank?
Julian Smith: It was boxes of tilapia.
Heather: Single-handily depleted the Pacific Ocean.
Julian Smith: So guess what fish I never want to eat again?
Nick: Yeah. This is why you live in Portland, it’s close to the ocean.
Julian Smith: So, actually when I was done, I had such bad damage like metabolically, that I actually gained 45 pounds of weight in two weeks. I was doing construction work at the time, and my feet were so swollen, I couldn't even lace up my work boots. That's some scary crap man. A lot of people think like that, "Why would I ever need that amount of protein?". It's just because of the people that you listen to.
You mentioned Layne Norton earlier. I've read almost everything that that guy talks about and everyone's got their own take on training, everyone's got their own take on this, but when it comes down to nutrition, I feel like nutrition's pretty proven. You could look at some guy and say "Well, you need to do progressive overload for your workouts, so you're never gonna see any progress", but that guy's seeing progress.
I think training is one of those things where if you're training correctly, and your intensity is up, even if you're not focusing on like a set progressive overload, you could still see plenty of progress. I know a lot of people that are bigger than me, and they don't do progressive overload, and they're natural bodybuilders, and they look insane. When it comes to nutrition, it's pretty cut and dried. Back then, like you said, everyone was doing that like super high protein. I didn't even know. The fats that I got was the fat that was in the fish. I think there's not much at all.
Nick: Not much.
Heather: Not in tilapia.
Julian Smith: That's such an important part of a diet in general, just for your mind. You don't have fats. This is gonna sound really sad, and it was a really upsetting time in my life, because I was like I really want to bodybuild, I really want to keep this going, but I was literally eating and sleeping cause I was so hungry to get to my next meal. That was back when I was really focused on making sure I eat every three hours. It wasn't every two and a half hours, it wasn't every two hours and 45 minutes, it was every three hours. I'd sit there and look at my watch and think "And three hours. Okay, now I'm gonna eat", time my microwave up perfectly that when it goes off it's been three hours, so that's how I was.
Heather: You've always been this dialed in, is what you're trying to tell us.
Julian Smith: Yeah, I don’t mess around.
Nick: Have you learned nutritional techniques from the great bodybuilders of the past as well? Have you looked into-
Julian Smith: Yeah. You know what I like about those guys? It was intuitive eating. Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about it, awesome. He makes an excellent point of this whole thing. He'll sit there and say "I didn't eat like the way people did nowadays". People eat nowadays to like scarf. You worked really hard to get on stage. Why do you have to eat like seven tubs of Häagen-Dazs when you're done? Why do you have to do all that?
Arnold and those guys back in the old days, Arnold would sit there and say "Well, back then I used to have two or three medium steaks". Two or three medium steaks, that might be a lot of steaks but what if that steak was six ounces? What if it was eight ounces? What if it was seven? That's stuff people would fret nowadays, and I admire the "I'd rather have a much happier lifestyle and eat intuitively rather than weigh every single thing out". This entire time I've been here, I've made conscious decisions.
I went out after the video shoots and everything from training the other day. I went out and had three rolls, like sushi rolls, and then I had three or four of the hand rolls, which is a lot of food. But you know what I did? I knew that I had a big portion of fat there, a big portion of protein, a big portion of carbs, so later in the day, I didn't eat normally, eat a little more cleaner, have salads with chicken, have something that's a little less carbs, a little less fat, knowing you blew so much of it earlier. That's were people fall off. They just think it's 24/7 eating, and that's why people are 50 pounds overweight.
Heather: Or they just fall apart if they just go off their macros.
Julian Smith: I don't have my scale. I can't go out to eat. I used to miss Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with my family, times that you can't get back.
Nick: You'd skip them?
Julian Smith: Yeah. I'd sit there and eat out of a Tupperware, while my parents would cook awesome meals for the family and I would skip it, because I thought that you couldn't do it. What's really weird is that it's still happening. There's still people out there that are like "Flexible dieting doesn't work". Oh my gosh, like what do you need to see man? It just works.
Nick: Do you feel like it works for you because you just have the idea of macros programmed into you from all your experience though?
Julian Smith: It takes work man. I will say that because I actually have like an Excel spreadsheet on my phone, and it has my proteins, carbs, my fats, and when I eat something and I can track it, let's say you eat a bag of potato chips or you eat like one of those Honey Bunches of Oats things, little bars or something, anything that's got a scan on the back, find out how much you ate and just type it in this thing, and then track what you're doing. At the end of the day, I want to hit my carbs, fats and protein, which I know what those are, and at the end of the day, tally everything up and then try to hit that.
That's making a conscious effort. Is your body gonna fret over you going ten grams over? No. Is it gonna fret if you on 20, 30 grams below protein? Maybe a little bit, but on the scheme of things, would you rather have a more balanced life that you're happy with, or would you rather be restricted to being buried in your phone and being, you know, nothing's worse than being depressed because you ate three ounces of fish instead of four. It's like, what are you doing? I used to be like that. Much better life now.
Heather: So it's like half intuitive but also careful tracking, and just kind of finding that right balance.
Julian Smith: There's a lot of learning that goes into flexible dieting. I have people ask all the time what are macros. First of all, everybody who's listen to this, it's a simple Google search away. I've never seen somebody doing something and go "What's this?", Google it. My dad tells me to Google stuff. How is that possible? Kids nowadays, if you got a question on something, Google it. You can find studies.
Nick: What are my macros, daddy?
Julian Smith: Flip open that ... Flip open that phone? What am I talking about?
Nick: Flip that shit right open.
Julian Smith: Turn on that N64 and let's do this. That’s old school.
Nick: Go over to Kazaam, download your macros.
Julian Smith: Yeah, yeah, just get it right. But yeah man, unfortunately there's a little bit to learn prior. I'll tell everybody that I think once you learn what your general macros are, and you have a concept of flexible dieting, you can live a much better lifestyle and enjoy bodybuilding much more, because when I got down with that first show, I thought I wasn't going to do it anymore.
Nick: Sure. Do you feel like going full scale in a way is necessary just to kind of grasp the concept even initially?
Heather: Yeah, that's something I've been kind of toying around with. Is that necessary to go that …
Julian Smith: There's a big difference because when you're getting ready for a show, you're going to present yourself on stage. You better look awesome. If you're trying to lose eight pounds for a photo shoot, and you're not supposed to be stage-ready where your cheek bones are sticking out, you'd be a little more lax on stuff. You should track if you're trying to hit your goal, and when you get a good grasp on everything, you can be a little more lenient. You know what I mean?
When I'm at home and I have a scale, there's no reason to not do that, but if you're out at a restaurant and you're eating dinner with your friends and family for someone's birthday, dude just eyeball six ounces of steak. You can look up all of this. I was at the Jack Johnson concert in Bend just over the weekend, got home and flew here. But we were out at a Mexican restaurant. There's places where you can go that you can be a little more conscious of your goals, like okay we're gonna go out to eat, this is a burger joint and that's all they have. Wow, okay. I don't know with what the hell they're cooking that stuff and I don't know what kind of fries. You're gonna be the person eating a burger that could probably have like, you know, 80, 20% lean beef or whatever. So I chose, I was like "How about we go and get Mexican?". I suggested that to the group, "Let's get some Mexican food, That sounds bomb". In the back of my mind I'm thinking, I'm gonna be able to track my food pretty good and no one's gonna know that I'm dieting.
We went to the Mexican restaurant. I ordered their flank steak. They tell you the portion that's in it, and then you just get a couple of those little tortillas and you put some veggies in it. I looked all that stuff up, put it into my little Excel spreadsheet and tracked my meal, and no one even knew. It's stuff like that. I think people think to themselves "I can't even go out". Dude, you can go out anywhere.
I'll be heading down to the river. My girlfriend's son and I just cruised down to the river the other day, just him and I. I stopped at a 7-Eleven and I grabbed two Rice Krispies treats and a bag of jerky. I threw that stuff in my app and that's what I ate as a snack when I was down there. It's not the ideal food to eat, eating Rice Krispies treats every single day, all day, but if you want to just get something in to keep you on track when you're gone for three of four hours, then you come back and then you can start doing more stuff that you can prepare yourself.
Nick: I like that yeah. Jerky I feel like is one of the great unappreciated … Jerky and string cheese.
Heather: Rice Krispies treats was all I took away from that, just the Rice Krispies treats.
Nick: String cheese and nuts, you know.
Julian Smith: In a nutshell, all I eat is Rice Krispy treats. You heard it here. That’s it.
Nick: Rice Krispy body. One other thing I wanted to ask you about is about squating with boards under your heels. This is something that has a reputation of being like, "Oh, you only have to elevate your heels because you have poor ankle mobility, right?
Julian Smith: Yeah.
Nick: But you do squats, different types of squats, different elevations, everything from a little bit to full on two boards.
Julian Smith: Yeah.
Nick: How much of a difference do you feel like exploring that has made? That's totally an old school training approach.
Julian Smith: What's really funny about that is people can say whatever they want, but it hits the muscle differently.
Julian Smith: You know what I mean? It's like when you have your heels elevated, you can actually create more depth, so that person is now stimulating more, they're getting a longer range of motion, so you can dog somebody for having poor ankle mobility, but with that board under them, they're squating lower than you.
Nick: And their squat is better.
Julian Smith: It's better.
Nick: It's a better-formed squat.
Julian Smith: So what are you gonna say? I do a lot of stupid stuff in the gym … it's stupid to the outside world. Why would you do that? It works for me. It's like I said earlier. What can you honestly say when it works? That's why when I hear people dog on like flexible dieting or talk, "Oh, it's ridiculous that people are doing that", but it works. Should you be eating Pop-Tarts every day for your carbs? No, but can you do something like that and lose weight? Absolutely. If your body needs 3,000 calories to gain weight and you eat 2,900 calories of snack pack pudding every day, you will lose weight. Is it healthy? No, but you'll lose weight. People don't realize stuff like that, and they think that it's this way or the highway.
In regards to the squating thing, every time you change your stance, every time you change your heel or toe elevation, it's gonna hit the muscle differently and I think that's a win.
Nick: You need to have all of them in your arsenal.
Julian Smith: Yeah. I had a guy write me the other day, and he goes "Dude, I've been following you since you had 20", this is what was really cool, he screenshotted something from I think it was when I had like 2,900 followers, a long time ago. That was almost three, four years ago, and he goes, "In the timeframe that you've been doing this, I don't think I've ever seen you fully like redo the same exercise. It's because you're always changing, always doing something a little bit differently". I'll reference stuff from a couple weeks back so they can look back and go "Okay, it is different". If it's different, it's gonna hit a little bit differently, ever so slightly, but it will.
Nick: Sure, and not only will it maybe keep you growing and keep you progressing, but keep you from just getting burnt out and getting repetitive stress, repetitive stress. The people who always seem like they're hurt are my friends who are powerlifters, because they're doing the same damn four, five things over and over, and over again, and just gradually starts wearing on …
Julian Smith: Exactly.
Heather: And probably with incorrect form, but that's just ‘cause no one's perfect.
Julian Smith: Yeah, absolutely. And then the way that I train right now is I do kind of like a heavy week and not necessarily a deload week, but it's a lot of time under tension and high reps so-
Nick: One after another?
Julian Smith: Yeah.
Nick: That's a cool approach.
Julian Smith: Yeah, so I would do something more like my normal split would be like either a 5x5. Everything is HIIT with a 5x5 workout, or an 8-6-4-4, so you're dipping down into the low reps, and then the following week when I hit chest again, it's gonna be four sets of eight with four-second negatives. Then you would go into four sets of 20 reps for a cable fly. So you would hit the different muscle fibers, different rep ranges. So you're kind of giving that four to six rep range a break, and now you're hitting it with some of those high reps and then next week, it's gonna be ready for the high reps again, back to the low reps.
Nick: Cool. I like that. That's an interesting approach, because we have a lot of people on the site these days saying "Do them in phases, do four to six weeks one, four to six weeks for the other", and people have great success with that, but alternating them like that, seems like you could carry that on for quite a while.
Julian Smith: That's what I want and that's what's really cool about, even Arnold talks about it in one of these videos, I think it's the Blueprint For Mass, or something like that. I don't know who they did that with.
Nick: That’s on our site.
Julian Smith: Is it?
Julian Smith: I think so. I think you're right, but he talked about something really cool. He's just like it's the whole shock thing. You do the bench press over, and over, and over, you're gonna get to the gym and your body's gonna go "I know what you're doing, and I'm ready for it". But if you go in there and you do 100-pound dumbbells and then drop set to 95s, then 90, then 80, then 85, then 75, you know, all the way down to 50s, your body didn't know that was coming, and it's gonna shock the hell out of it. That's essentially what I'm doing every other week.
You're going from heavy compound sets and compound reps, and compound exercises, and then you go into the next week on high reps, shocking it, but then you might go back to those low reps. Then the next week you might be doing supersets, or giant sets, so instead of doing those high reps, which you might think you're doing the high reps, again you're doing something completely different, or drop sets or something like that. Your body is always guessing, and in a nutshell isn't that kind of what progressive overload is?
Julian Smith: You're progressively doing something to overload the muscle, and if your body never knows what the hell you're gonna do, how is it gonna get used to it?
Nick: You publish all of your workouts on your website. Do you have then written down before you go into the gym, or is it something you write down after it, and you're like "This is what I did, it was awesome"?
Julian Smith: What's funny is a lot of people ask, they go "What the hell do you do for work that you're able to do like all this?" ‘Cause a lot of people post stuff up on Instagram and it's kind of biceps, and then it's them doing a bicep exercise. It's very short. You mentioned that earlier, I break stuff down. I have a full-time job outside of this, and I usually train about seven, or six or so in the morning, and I have all my captions, all my videos and everything filmed before I even leave the gym, so when I go to work throughout the day, all I have to do is upload them and they're done. People think I'm like dicking around on my phone while I'm at work. It's like, dude I go take a pee, upload my stuff and it's up there for you guys to look at, and I'm going back to work. It's not some 24/7 thing. It's all done before most people get out of bed.
Nick: Are your workouts planned out in your mind the second you step into the gym?
Julian Smith: No, and that's kind of the concept where I don't want my actual exercises that I do, I might walk in there and say I want to put a little more emphasis on my chest today, or upper chest I mean, or I might want to put a little more emphasis on the long head of my tricep, or the short head of my tricep, or something like that. But usually when I go into the gym, it's the sets and reps that are completely mapped out. I could say I'm gonna do four sets of eight today. I'm gonna do an 8-6-4-4 exercise. I'm gonna do three sets of forty reps, a compound set and I have those reps.
Let's say I walk in there and I really want to do skullcrushers, everybody's over there doing those, all right, we're doing double arm overhead with those reps. So I hit those reps for whatever I want to do them on, and that's where the variety can come in and be plugged in wherever you want.
Nick: That's cool, yeah. That seems that's a sustainable approach.
Heather: For as precise as you are, that's a very kind of "go with the flow" way of approaching it. It's an interesting comment.
Julian Smith: Yeah, cause I think the most important part is the reps. People think that I'm doing those exercises to benefit myself. What if the guy looking at the video has an incredible chest? You don't need to do something that's gonna help you work on your mind-muscle connection, cause yours is great. You don't need to do it, but when I do everything that I do at the gym, that's to benefit myself. But those rep ranges are what can help you. So if you don't like the Smith machine sissy squats with your knees over the toes, don't do it but apply those reps for something else.
Nick: And still try to feel it. It seems like you're chasing the feeling that mind-muscle connection is so essential to what you're doing.
Julian Smith: There's actually people out there that say that it's not a thing, and ...
Heather: What people?
Julian Smith: You know what? I've heard of-
Nick: Hurt people.
Julian Smith: Yeah. It's funny because I've actually heard a lot of people say that it's a myth and I don't know it that's some ploy to like discredit somebody, but even if the mind-muscle connection is not a scientifically proven thing, I think that it's 100% relevant in bodybuilding because I can't tell you how many times I've done an exercise and not felt it in the primary work muscle. Bench pressing if you don't feel your chest contracting but your front delts or your triceps are burning, you don't have a good mind-muscle connection. Your chest should be working on bench. If you're doing leg extensions and you're feeling like, God forbid, like feeling in your arms or something like that, that's supposed to be for your quads. You don't have a good mind-muscle connection, and that's what people don't get.
Nick: Sure, yeah. I feel like that's one thing that working here in and talking to people on the podcasts has taught me as well. The mind-muscle connection is kind of the great export from bodybuilding to the rest of the training world, to say like you want to know what proper form is? Proper form is feeling it in the right place and being able to control yourself, otherwise, you have no control over the movement and you're just begging to get injured at some point.
Julian Smith: Yeah. I've actually been, I don't want to say scrutinized, but questioned often about the amount of volume I do in my workouts. Some people say like my legs go on for about maybe like an hour and a half, maybe two hours sometimes, but it's not like I'm doing an hour and a half to two hours of quads. I'm doing four or so exercises for quads, three or so exercises for hamstrings, and two exercises for glutes. It's not like I'm doing 16 exercises for quads. I'm breaking up each muscle. That's the same thing with arms. People are like "Oh, man you hit arms for an hour and a half". Yeah, I did biceps, triceps and I did my forearms, and I did grip training. Doesn't mean I just killed my biceps for an hour and a half, that's ridiculous. It's all about kind of what works best for you as well.
Nick: When you're training your legs, do you lead with squats fairly early in the routine, or do you pre-exhaust and-
Julian Smith: No, it's actually really rare that I squat first. I do a lot of my squatting at the end. I think it's just because to me the squats are gonna be the same. If I'm shooting for six to eight reps, let's say we're going pretty heavy and we're trying to get like a lower rep range, I would rather hit those three exercises in when I'm fatigued and I don't have to do as much weight than start with a lot of weight to land in those rep ranges. I think that's a big thing that most people have a problem with and that's based off of ego.
Julian Smith: You don't want to do the movement where you can move the most amount of weight when you're so tired you can't even come close. Dude, I'll end workouts with two plates for as many reps as I can, or something like that. People will look at you and go, "Man, how are you able to get the legs that you have when you don't use that much weight". I'm failing on the rep ranges that I need. If I have to bench 135 to make my chest grow, I'd rather do that than 315 and I'm not gonna get hurt. You limit your injuries and you see more results.
Nick: Sure. I feel like that's something I've heard a lot more on our site recently from people like Evan Centopani as well, saying like making light weights heavy, there’s something to be said for that, even though he's still benching 315. He could bench way more, but yeah, really being able to control that weight and making light weights heavy is just a good philosophy.
Julian Smith: It's not powerlifting. If you want to be the best powerlifter in the world, then that's an opposite mindset. You shouldn't be listening to me, I should be listening to you. Powerlifting's a different ballgame, but if you want to stimulate the muscle and look like a bodybuilder and do the bodybuilding type stuff, it's the mind-muscle connection and making lighter weight heavier.
Nick: Do you feel like the attention that you've gotten and the people reaching out, "Oh, I followed you for all this long", and watching those numbers go up, does that make you want to compete more in the future or less? Or just like I'm stable where I'm at.
Julian Smith: You know, I'm happy with what I'm doing because I really like helping people and bodybuilding competitions are one of the most selfish things you could do, and I mean that in a super nice way, cause I was a competitive bodybuilder that got into this whole thing, and I'm definitely not done competing, but I've seen marriages fail, I've seen people leave each other, dating and you get too into doing too much competition that puts stress on the family, the relationship, "See you, I'm out. This is what I want to do". That's totally fine for people that want to do that. It's just not my cup of tea.
I've only done five shows. I did one show, two shows in my first year, two shows in my second year, and then I did the Natural Ohio and then the … Washington Ironman and then I did the Natural Ohio. So it's six shows total in my life. Most competitive bodybuilders by the time they're 30 would have probably triple that. Local shows to qualify for USA's, didn't win it, they do the same, requalify, requalify, then they get their pro card. That's a lot of competition. You could even maybe make it the argument, that maybe you just don't have the drive to do it, Julian, well maybe I don't. But it's okay with me, because I know that teaching people and helping people on Instagram is actually really fun, and when it comes down to like life and what you should be doing ...
That's why you're never gonna hear me like talk poorly about CrossFit. You're never gonna hear me talk poorly about powerlifting. Bodybuilding's not the only way you can do it and I don't care if you like throwing rocks in a lake, whatever makes you super happy, we're going after this, you and me.
Nick: I do.
Heather: He does.
Nick: I have a five-year-old and a two-year-old, and tonight it's actually on the schedule, throwing some rocks in a river.
Heather: Rocks in the lake.
Julian Smith: Super oddly satisfying. We'll head down to the river, my girlfriend's son and I will be like just blow our arms out and see who can hit the log first with the rock, and she's like "That's my thing".
Nick: You make a good point though. Even the best prep is still brutal.
Heather: It's all consuming. It's just gonna completely-
Julian Smith: It is, and you know what? It's super hard.
Julian Smith: And if you look and it's the ... Do you feel like shit? Yes? Good. And that's the mindset. When I was getting ready for the Ohio, I remember waking up and being like kind of woozy, probably for like three weeks in a row, three or four weeks in a row. I didn't have any fat on the bottom of my feet and it was super sore to do like legs. You'd be like squatting and I would be like "Man, it's like my bone is touching the ground, my heels, it's like there's no fat, there's no nothing." And you're joints are all sore all the time and it's super, it's just taxing.
Heather: It's a vicious nasty sport and we love it in its own little way.
Nick: I remember the first time I heard that, it was backstage at the Olympia. Guys are limping because they have no fat under the soles of their feet. That blew my mind. I didn't know somebody could get that lean.
Julian Smith: It's literally the whole … concept everywhere.
Heather: They're collapsing and they're so dehydrated and they just, yeah. It's an insane sport, but it feels like what you did is rather than getting swept up in that current that everyone else was in, you kind of did those few shows, took a step back and said "How do I want to approach this a different way". I love that it's not about lifting the heaviest weight possible. You actually looked at it from a very pragmatic standpoint of "How can I make my muscles grow? What's the easiest way?". And I like that because it feels like people want to go with "Well, how much weight can I lift?", which is you know, "How hard can I go?", and you're like "How easy can I go?"
Julian Smith: Yeah, exactly. It's funny because most people who have the "I gotta lift as much weight as possible", I don't think a lot of those guys get on stage. It's whose impressing the girl at five o'clock, after work at the gym. Those are the people that are trying to really break records at the gym. There might be some strong bodybuilders out there, but a lot of the guys that I follow, know and do this whole thing, kind of lift more similar to me. You might do some impressive lifts every now and again, but it's just like you say. You do that every single week, that's pretty taxing on your body. When you start getting leaner and leaner, and leaner, you're leaving yourself open to like a bad injury.
I tell people this all the time. Bodybuilding is one injury away from never doing it again. I want to do this as long as I can, and imagine blowing out your pec or your tricep. I blew my tricep out powerlifting. I actually ruptured the vein in my tricep.
Nick: Not the muscle, the vein.
Julian Smith: The vein. I beared down so hard ... They said it was similar to like a hose getting too much pressure and it just bubbled and popped. The whole inside of my arm was full of blood and it was internal bleeding, so they had to snip the sides of the vein and reattach it. That was the one time that I've been injured in the gym, and outside of that, that's when I really started slowing everything down. That was probably when I was about I’d say 20 years old.
Nick: Okay, so you have heard the siren call of other styles of lifting along the way.
Julian Smith: Oh yeah. I always tell people the strongest I've ever been was when I was 19 or 20. That's prior to me hurting myself. I used to work out at this old gym called Nelson's Nautilus out in I think it was Oregon City, right outside of Portland, the Portland area. This was a place that when it would like rain, it was a basement gym, and the water would roll in under the door like by the 100 pound dumbbells, and it was just like dingy, super dingy. But you just had that like kind of underground Dorian Yates’ style training. I was doing like five and a half plates for four, five reps at 20 years old. I couldn't even touch that now, but it's a good thing because I've seen more growth out of my body doing half that weight.
Heather: It's almost like early injuries are a good thing to have happen to athletes. Yeah, if you want to be a lifelong athlete, yeah.
Julian Smith: If you can have an injury that doesn't really hurt you but it opens you up, like one time when I was about 18 years old, I locked my legs out on the leg press and both my legs quickly hyperextended but I got them back, instead of like bending all the way down. I remember the pain that I had in that, and I was like really limpy for probably like a week. I've never done that again, that's why I always cringe when I see those videos on YouTube and stuff. Those guys they lock their legs out and their freaking legs bend in half, and their toes touch their-
Nick: What are you doing watching that? Don't watch this.
Julian Smith: I get tagged on that crap all the time. They'll tag me and they'll go "Leg day today?", no way dude. I don’t wanna see that at all.
Heather: Not that we're wishing injuries on anyone, but a nice little minor injury can really set you on the right path.
Nick: A teaching moment. Yeah. Awesome, well thanks for coming and talking with us.
Julian Smith: Yeah, you bet man.
Nick: What else is next for you?
Julian Smith: So what's next? You know, I just kind of want to keep doing this. I really like what I'm doing. I like getting these opportunities like this and it's pretty funny because if you diet down a certain way it's really, and I don't mean this in a negative way, but it's actually pretty unappealing to like the masses of the world. The people that love the super-veined crazy vascular look is so tiny. It's very tiny even in the fitness world, so when I was dieting down for my show this last year, Men's Health approached me for some online footage and stuff.
Nick: I remember seeing that.
Julian Smith: But it was two months prior to the shoot and I was dieting for a show, and I was getting closer to my shoot and I had dropped probably six pounds or so, in between talking to them, and they contacted me and they were like "Just letting you know, you're literally getting too lean. We can't shoot you right now because you're now not our market anymore". And I backed out of my show, and I got maybe like two or three pounds back on, face filled out a little bit more, I looked a little more healthy and normal, and it was a better appearance for what they wanted.
When I'm overly dieting and stuff like that, it takes you out of those things. You guys and Optimum contacted me and they say "We want to do some work with you", and that was like maybe a month and a half ago. I was able to lose seven pounds and get in shape. I want to stay in that cusp and be happy. I don't want to battle constant stuff with my own mind where it's like "I gotta get to 220. No, I want to be 205." No more than 205 ever again. That way, if I need to diet down to, I'm like 199, 198 right now, and that's a really good weight for photo shoots and stuff like that. If I want to get tighter, it's easier. All I need is about a month and a half, two months to get in shape and ready to go. A lot of people are like, "I need months, months on months to get ready for this, because I'm 30 pounds above", and I don't want to kill myself either for it.
Nick: Well you are on Instagram as-
Julian Smith: Smith.Julian
Nick: Okay, where else?
Julian Smith: Facebook: Julian Michael Smith, and then my site's just TheQuadGuy.com.
Nick: Cool, all right.
Heather: Very cool site.
Nick: Well, Julian Michael Smith, thank you so much for coming and talking with us!
Julian Smith: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Heather Eastman: Thank you.
Nick Collias: Do you know what Kris Gethin has been up to? So the bodybuilder’s bodybuilder has been training for the last 6 months to compete in a full Ironman triathlon, and he’s been sharing crazy weekly videos with us each step of the way. This is a challenge unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Just go to Bodybuilding.com or YouTube and search for “Man of Iron” to watch all the episodes.
If you think legs are the only body part Julian "The Quad Guy" Smith thrashes, wait until you feel the burn of his arm-blasting workout!
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